If you were injured in a Cruise Ship Accident, call Florida Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer, Mark J. Leeds, right away for a Free Legal Consultation.
Cruise Ship Passenger witnesses are from all over the world, and are on the cruise ship for a short time.
While they are able to be contacted, getting a signed written or recorded statement about what they heard and observed is a good idea. Getting their email addresses is important, and you should also ask for Skype and Facebook page access, as well.
A Florida Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer will have a time and cost practicality decision to make when presented with a larger injury case and a foreign eyewitness who is absolutely the only key to proving the case. In the best of all situations, the deposition of that eyewitness would be taken to preserve the testimony.
Unfortunately, for many valid reasons, early eyewitness deposition testimony happens so rarely that it is the equivalent of a golf hole-in-one.
The reasons why a cruise ship passenger eyewitness deposition is not immediately taken include, but are not limited to:
- Limited time and Issues of Notice;
- Filing and petitioning the Court for the early preservation of evidence;
Asking about the claim in a very official manner before all of the discovery proceedings, documents and facts are clear.
Instead, a common accepted practice is take a really good witness statement, unless you have a decent reason to suspect that cruise ship accident witness will disappear or pass away.
If a Florida cruise ship accident attorney has never tried to locate a key witness using a Nigerian translator during different time zone business hours and hiring a Nigerian private investigator to locate that witness, the cruise accident lawyer has simply not practiced law long enough.
Get the idea?
Making sure your cruise accident attorney can find the eyewitness again is important.
If there is a cruise ship employee who witnessed the accident, sometimes that witness will not be easily located when you need to take that witness’s statement.
Even the cruise ship employees may be fired, relocate, get married and move away to another country and start using their married name. So make sure to get the first and last name of the employee and as much personal information as the employee is willing to reveal.
I have had to chase down a cruise ship employee whose testimony was vital to the outcome of a jury trial because the cruise ship company kept transferring that employee from one ship to another, and assigned the employee temporary duty at a foreign port and then gave him an extended vacation. The cruise ship company did their best to create a picture of “gosh, we did not keep the employee from testifying, all we did was change his job location and give him a vacation”.
I want to make a special point here. There is a huge, gigantic, immense difference between getting a witness statement and getting testimony in a deposition.
What is the difference?
If you cannot settle your case and need to go in front of a jury, either a live witness on the witness stand or a deposition testimony if that witness is unavailable under certain specific circumstances, are okay. But, unlike a live witness or a deposition, a witness statement, even if it is signed and sworn to, is usually NOT okay on its own.
So, take the example of a slip and fall case that happened on the cruise ship and was witnessed by a lady from Australia. Before she left the USA, a sharp lawyer got his investigator to meet with her. She signed the witness statement, and swore it was true. Her signature and the fact that she swore it was true was notarized… Sounds good, right?
It is. Until you need to go to court.
Under most fact patterns, the witness statement of the lady from Australia is not going to be allowed into evidence without her there in person. A deposition of the cruise ship accident eyewitness has a much better chance of being useable in a trial than a statement, even if the statement was notarized.
Many cruise ship passengers are elderly, and in their golden years.
What if the key eyewitness dies before the trial? What if they have a rapid mental decline? Can you use her sworn statement then? Each jurisdiction will have different rules. Each fact pattern is unique.
I hope that this section has informed you about the importance the different ways to preserve eyewitness evidence testimony, and how important witness contact information is.